Playtime: Fun and free holiday options for families

Holiday light display in Mountlake Terrace.

This year, the call to keep Christmas from seeping into Thanksgiving was coming from inside the house, if you will. So while a few of the tiny trees made it onto the table before Thanksgiving, by Friday I was chomping at the bit to put up my other countertop tinsel trees without (as many) comments.

Thanksgiving weekend is usually a divide-and-conquer weekend due to holiday hockey tournaments vs. taking a break and gearing up for the holidays with some rest mixed with some holiday-themed fun. Being on the break and holiday fun side, along with a tween still fully on board, we set out to decorate up until setting up the fake Christmas tree so we could all do that together. We used a paint-your-own ornament set I got in a White Elephant My Edmonds News holiday lunch with a schmaltzy holiday movie playing in the background. Then we headed to the craft store for some items to use while our craftiest friend came over and taught us how to make some resin art — sometimes you gotta outsource this stuff. As we were out getting supplies and getting some non-leftover groceries, we were inundated with festive options for more hands-on activities, and then I remembered something I already know… this time of year can be expensive! I also remembered that there are a lot of fun and free local options for festive activities to get the most out of this holiday season.

One of our free holiday traditions is to see local light displays. The Mountlake Terrace Christmas Lights Display, located just off of 228th Street Southwest at 42nd Place West, is one we never miss. There are lights and inflatables at the 20-plus homes that participate and options to donate to the Mountlake Terrace food bank. To be festive on a budget, we have brought our own hot chocolate in the commuter-style coffee mugs we’ve somehow amassed, but we have also stopped at the Starbucks right there at 228th and 44th for some kid-temperature hot chocolate.

Holiday on the Docks at the Port of Edmonds Marina.(Photo courtesy Port of Edmonds)

Another free holiday light display we are planning on checking out this year is Holiday on the Docks, which runs nightly from Dec. 4 to Jan. 2 at the Edmonds Marina. I called the Port of Edmonds and they let me know that the decorated boats will be at guest moorage — so the I, J, K, and L docks, for those of you in the know — and for those of us who are just finding out that the docks are lettered, the area behind Anthony’s restaurant is just about the middle of the display. This is also a chance to visit the Edmonds Fishing Pier with some light left to see local wildlife including harbor seals, bald eagles, and an array of sea and shorebirds. For more information, you can visit

Santa Claus and his helpers ride in Engine 15 to the tree lighting at Silver Creek Church in 2016. (Lynnwood Today file photo)

Enjoy a magical night of celebrating Christmas with your family and neighbors at the Lynnwood Christmas Tree Lighting at Silver Creek Family Church Saturday, Dec. 4. This free event, which runs from 5-7 p.m., features a live jazz band, coffee cart, food vendors, a visit from Santa and activities for all ages. Silver Creek Church is located at 5326 176th St. S.W., Lynnwood.

Kids have until Dec. 16 to drop a line to Santa at the Log Cabin Visitor’s Center on 5th Avenue in downtown Edmonds. All letters to Santa put in the red mailbox before the 16th will receive a reply from good ol’ Santa Claus. While you are there, you can see the Edmonds Christmas tree, which was officially lit the Saturday after Thanksgiving. If you drop your letter on a Saturday you are then just 361 feet, per Google Maps, to the Thai Cottage which is one of the six stops on the Saturday Edmonds Trolley route. It runs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Dec. 4, 11 and 18 with Emily the Elf in tow, “spreading cheer and fun tidbits about our historic seaside town.” In its seventh year, the Edmonds Holiday Trolley also got a new day and route. On two Sundays — Dec. 12 and 19 — from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., the Edmonds Trolley will “run from the southeast corner of the Safeway/Aurora Marketplace parking lot and then head west on 238th to Edmonds Way, then back on 228th to Highway 99.” The Edmonds Holiday Trolley comes every 30 minutes, and you can find more information at

Santa Claus will be in the Sound Styles window Dec. 11 and 18.

There is also a chance to visit Santa on the same block as the red mailbox! On two Saturdays, Dec. 11 and 18, from noon to 2 pm, Santa will be at Sound Styles in the roundabout. Kids can find Santa in the window, wave hello, and take a Santa selfie with the glass between for a safe interaction.

You can stay close to the fountain in Edmonds for free fun. Cline Jewelers is sponsoring a free holiday movie on Friday, Dec. 10. It will start with an hour of holiday cartoons at 3:30 p.m. followed by A Christmas Story at 5 p.m.

And there will be a Holiday Scavenger Hunt that runs now through New Year’s Eve. The Edmonds Downtown Alliance says that a “stroll around festive downtown” will help you find all of the answers, with options to pick up your scavenger hunt list at Teri’s Toybox, Edmonds Bookshop, or Walnut Street Coffee. Once finished, the forms can be dropped off at Rogue near the fountain and winners will be picked each week through the end of the year! For more information, including a list you can print at home, visit

Edmonds’ Cascadia Art Museum is offering another free Virtual Family Art Workshop — this one is called Art of the Snow. Taught by local teaching artist Mona Fairbanks, this workshop will show participants how to construct a snowflake with a watercolor background. Art materials bags can be purchased for $1 ahead of time and picked up at the museum if needed; otherwise, a list of materials to be used — such as salt, an ultrafine sharpie, pencils, and watercolors –can be found while registering. This workshop is right on time as I just saw some snow/wintry mix on my forecast app. For registration, a supply list or contact information, you can visit

— By Jennifer Marx

Jen Marx, an Edmonds mom of two boys, is always looking for a fun place to take the kids that makes them tired enough to go to bed on time.


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